Insidious: The Last Key

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MInsidious: The Final Key

Directed by: Adam Robitel

Based on Characters Created by: Leigh Whannell

Written by: Leigh Whannell

Produced by: Jason Blum, Oren Peli, James Wan

Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart, Tessa Ferrer, Aleque Reid, Ava Kolker, Pierce Pope, Bruce Davison, Javier Botet.

Set as a prequel to the original, Insidious: The Last Key begins with parapsychologist, Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) growing up in 1954, living in an abusive home: 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys.

Elise has the gift, she was born with the gift.  And her father hates her for it.

She lives with her brother, Christian (Pierce Pope) who’s understandably afraid of the dark, and is given a silver whistle to call his mother if he ever feels scared.

But when their mother dies, Elise finally leaves home at 16, leaving her little brother and the terrors of her childhood behind, including Key Face (Javier Botet), a demon who convinced her that setting it free would bring her more light.  Key Face wants Elise to set them all free from The Further, because she’s the only one who can.

A phone call from Ted Garza (Kirk Acevedo), the current inhabitant of her childhood house, brings her back to all those bad memories.  Haunted, Ted asks for help.  And reluctantly, Elise returns with her new family, Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson): The Spectral Sightings crew.

There’s a different feel to this fourth instalment, with new director, Adam Robitel bringing a more human drama to this otherwise suspenseful, supernatural franchise.

There’s less reliance on the soundtrack, the suspense built on silence broken by footsteps on floorboards and the squeaking turn and fixing of a light bulb.  It’s a slow burn that builds into a surprisingly sinister tale.

But I had trouble with holes in the script – OK, maybe not holes.  Everything was there, but there wasn’t enough weight given to the why and backstory of Key Face.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the death of Elise’s mother felt superficial to me, not supernatural.

And her death is an important part of the film as the story relies on this essential part of the fable and the power of Key Face.

The object of the whistle gives the supernatural a touch-stone of reality.  And restraint makes the ghosts from The Further all the more believable.

So, there’s thought about the detail here which makes the glossing over the essential annoying.

Lin Shaye as Dr. Elise Rainier continues to bring authenticity to the difficult role of a parapsychologist who can commune and see ghosts.  And the humour of Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson as Specs and Tucker works in this instalment; the humour given more time to work unlike the over-editing in Chapter 3 (where Leigh Whannell was also the writer), which rendered the jokes mis-timed and inconsequential.

As producer Blum says of writer Leigh Whannell: “There is a real relationship that has evolved between the audience and the characters in the movie.  Leigh understands that what makes a good scary movie is not the scares, but what comes in between them.”

And seeing Spectural Sightings together in their van, AKA, The Winnebaghost, with Tucker sporting an impressive mullet, was a definite highlight.

Insidious: The Last Key manages to create a unique tone and story to the previous instalments.  A more adult and suspenseful drama with some good humour to break the tension with a few scares that could have been so much stronger with better understanding of the Key Man and his power.

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Annabelle: Creation

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+Annabelle: Creation

Director: David F. Sandberg

Produced by: Peter Safran, James Wan

Screenplay: Gary Dauberman

Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Philippa Coulthard, Grace Fulton, Lou Lou Safran, Samara Lee, Tayler Buck, Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto.

Coming out of the cinema whistling, You are my Sunshine, after watching a horror movie may sound sinister, but there was a tongue-in-cheek, wry streak to, Annabelle: Creation.

Set in what looks like the 1930s, Samuel Mullins, a dollmaker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, Esther (Miranda Otto) live an idyllic life in the countryside with their daughter Bee (Samara Lee), short for Annabelle.

Then tragedy strikes and Bee is taken from them.

Years later, time has taken its toll on the dollmaker and his wife, but they decide to make their home into an orphanage where several young girls and Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) come to live with them, to bring some happiness back into the household.

It only takes one night for the daemonic Being inhabiting a life-sized doll to make its presence known.  And slowly, the creation of Annabelle, the possessed, is revealed.

Annabelle: Creation

Producers, Peter Safran and James Wan, who brought, The Conjuring series have partnered up once again for, Annabelle: Creation.

Directing is David F. Sandberg (Lights Out (2016)) from a screenplay written by Gary Dauberman who also wrote the first, Annabelle.

Happily, for fans of, The Conjuring, there are threads tying pieces of the films together and the linking of, Creation to the original, Annabelle is seamless.

New to the franchise is the cast with, Anthony LaPaglia as the foreboding husband and, Miranda Otto as the wife.

I can’t decide whether I like Lulu Wilson as Linda who also had a starring role in the recent, Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016).  I liked her better here, with  direction highlighting her, too-good-it’s-creepy personality adding to that wry flavour.

There’s a fine line between comedy and horror.  You don’t want the audience laughing at the movie, you want the audience to laugh with the movie and at some points of the film, particularly with Linda on scene, it was a close call.Annabelle: Creation

But as the film progressed and the ramping of tension increased with Sandberg once again making use of light and darkness and classic devices such as super-freaky scarecrows and sheets over the, ‘not there’, I was happy for a bit of comic relief from young Linda.

But I have to admit I wanted the film to be scarier.

I felt there was a lighter touch here, compared to say, the recent, The Conjuring 2 (2016) (which I gave 4.5/5) as there wasn’t enough reason for the daemonic Being inhabiting the doll to attack some and not others.

Strengthening the backstory would have added so much more.

Sure, keep the mystery but showing more would have added to the fear – it can’t be just because one person is more physically weak than the others, right?

Not the super-scare factor I was hoping for, but there were a few jumps and tense moments with effective use of the soundtrack; and linking to the original, Annabelle and, The Conjuring series will satisfy fans.

The Conjuring 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:


Directed by: James WanThe Conjuring 2

Writers of Screenplay: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan and David Leslie Johnson

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Francis O’Connor, Madison Wolfe, Simon McBurney and Franka Potente.

Similar to the original (The Conjuring (2013)), Paranormal Investigators, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren reflect on a past case (those of you familiar with The Amityville Horror (2005) will understand the need to reflect) and worry about their future in a world that’s quite literally hell on earth.

With a call from the Catholic Church to investigate a haunting of the Hodgson Family in Enfield England, Lorrain’s premonition of Ed’s death could put her fear of the future firmly in the present reality.

Director James Wan (also director of the original ‘Conjuring’ and a favourite of mine, Insidious (2010)) uses a vision filled with archetypes to bring demons to life.  Bringing old fears into a new world by combining a great narrative with a perfectly matched soundtrack (Joseph Bishara) to keep the audience on the edge of their seat; keeping the story and characters held in suspense and letting beings not of this world to enter.

There’s a flavour to the Wan films – a true talent who creates horror without gore.

The story taps into a deep-seated fear of archaic evil our grandparents were scarred of and their grandparents before them.  This is biblical.  To the extent that 20% of the audience left a quarter of the way through the movie because they were too scared (I’m not kidding!).  So be warned, this is a pretty scary movie – but seriously people, if you’re scared you always have to watch to the end, otherwise you’re just left hanging…  Anyway…

Joseph Bishara was also the composer of the film Insidious, the success of both The Conjuring 2 and Insidious lying largely with the suspense created by the creepy soundtrack.

Wan is genius in his use of not only the soundtrack, but also the trickery of shadows, slips in time, old toys; a focus on the eyes or a terrifying portrait brought to life.  Seemingly simple devises, but used so well.

And the two characters that make the couple, The Warrens, are likeable.  The audience is with them, all the way, all through the terrors.

There’s a journey here.  An invitation to take hold of a hand  – a, Gotcha, then I’ll let you go a bit… then, I gotcha againThis time, I gotcha good.

James Wan is creating his own brand of horror thriller, and I’m very much enjoying the show.

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